The race for a quantum computer has so far been dominated by tech companies with household names such as IBM and Google. But Honeywell, a massive industrial conglomerate, perhaps best known for its home thermostats, is quietly working to beat the competition.
"[Honeywell] seems like an outlier, because most people don't know what it takes to build one," President Tony Uttley told Cheddar. "All of the subsystems needed to build a quantum computer are things Honeywell has been doing for decades in our aerospace business, in our controls business, in our chemicals business."
The company said it will release "the most powerful quantum computer yet" within the next three months. The model will have doubled the capacity of the next alternative in the industry, based on an industry metric known as quantum volume, according to Honeywell.
The simplest way to describe how quantum computers work is that they are theoretically capable of processing exponentially more problems than traditional computers. This opens the door to any number of new computing possibilities, from banking to life sciences.
"It just acts differently than traditional computers of today," Uttley said. "It allows for the processing of massive amounts of computations at the same time."
Clients are already lining up to put the new computing power to use — though it's likely to be an exploratory process as companies figure out how to incorporate the new technology.
To start, Honeywell is working with J.P.Morgan Chase to use quantum computing to better serve customers. Uttley expects business integration to happen soon after the release.
"Quantum computing will enable us to tackle complex scientific and business challenges, driving step-change improvements in computational power, operating costs, and speed," said Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk, in a statement.
"Materials companies will explore new molecular structures. Transportation companies will optimize logistics. Financial institutions will need faster and more precise software applications. Pharmaceutical companies will accelerate the discovery of new drugs."
This isn't the first time a company has come out of the gate with bold claims about its quantum capabilities. Google last year said that it had achieved "quantum supremacy," which means their model could solve problems that are practically impossible for traditional computers. IBM later criticized the claim because the computer only addressed a narrow set of problems.
Honeywell plans to get the new machine into partners' hands as soon as possible, proving one way or another whether this is the great leap forward for quantum computers that it claims to be.